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The Wedding Photographer

Geoff scrubs up wellWhen Leigh and I met last year – it was at a wedding where I was an usher and she was the photographer. I had a diddy little Nikon Coolpix for a camera back then, and like all good wedding guests/participants, I made sure I snapped away taking piccies. Maybe I take more pictures than your average punter – there is something of a photographer inside of me that had been waiting to get out all of these years, so it’s been no suprise that since getting here I’ve been to quite a few weddings officially helping Leigh out.

I was at one such wedding this weekend – the rehearsal dinner on the Friday, and then the actual wedding itself on the Saturday. UK readers should familiarise themselves with the principle of a rehearsal dinner – but as far as I can see it’s just an excuse to get pissed two nights in a row instead of just one.

Back at the wedding where Leigh & I met, I’ve got a really great photo of the bride & groom standing on the back of an old routemaster bus that they hired, and was parked outside of the church when they came out for their photos.

Leigh ridicules me to this day about the fact that SHE was the one that positioned them on the back of the bus, only for everyone else (including myself) to go “Ooh, that’s a good shot” and muscle in over her. I never really understood this until this weekend and the wedding just gone.

Leigh is taking the main set of photos. My remit is to roam with the big lens, taking candid pictures of people chatting, laughing, etc..

And as I roam about, I’m suddenly aware of THIRD photographer in the room. There she is … with her Canon (pah!) digital SLR, snap snap snapping away … and she seems to be getting EVERYWHERE! To the point where I have to say that If I were a guest I’d be starting to think that this person was the official photographer and not Leigh.

And it’s so annoying. Soooo annoying – undescribably so. I check in with Leigh. “Yeah I’ve seen her … she likes scrapbooking apparantly”, and so it would seem as she continued to snap snap snap at everything that moved. It seemed that she was taking more photos of people unofficially than of Leigh & I who were being paid to do it.

She got her big lens out too. Then her tripod, and she continually muscled in on any good photo opportunity that presented itself. She completely got on our nerves.

So I say this people … if you’re at a wedding this summer and you fancy yourself as a bit of a photographer – bear in mind that there is someone there already who has been paid a lot of money to be there and do a good job, unlike you with your little coolpix in your pocket.

Multiple flashes all going off at the same time as the official photographer is trying to take a photo can upset the lighting and make it look bad. Don’t lean over their shoulder, don’t encroach on their space, have a little respect and perhaps enjoy the day itself a little more instead of trying to be the next Ansel Adams.

Ok – rant over. And onto the photos. I know they’re just two random shots of people that you don’t know, but I’m dead proud of them.

Wedding Photo 1


Wedding Photo 2

Maybe it’s just the good lens. Maybe I got lucky. Or maybe I should consider becoming a professional wedding photographer.

Maybe I shouldn’t mention that to Leigh.

25 responses to “The Wedding Photographer”

  1. Chris says:

    What are you two going to be like next year then when someone is taking pictures of you!

    You can’t do it all using a self-timer!

  2. Fimb says:

    Oooh, get you!! *L*
    Luckily, all the weddings I am attending this year (well, probably with the exception of one), they aren’t having an official photographer, so no one to get all hissy if I wish to take photos of my friends and family *L*

    As for my wedding, I am SO pleased my friends felt able to take all the photos they wanted to, as, knowing the people, their photos were generally alot more pleasing to me than the official ones 🙂

  3. Paul Webb says:

    I know people who need to take photographs in order to validate the situation that they are in. It is almost like, if they do not have a photograph then the event did not really happen.

    I think this is a little sad, as there is always a certain degree of separation between what is happening in reality and their experience of it. They are not active in the enjoyment but passively receive the enjoyment and the event in an attempt to frame it. Their camera acts as a glass wall.

    The irony is that, in attempting to validate their experiences through photography they are actually invalidating them through their separation from the experience.

  4. Johnny Alpha says:

    I know exactly what you mean Paul. I used to take loads and loads of photographs when I was on holiday, then one day thought “Hold on a second, I’m recording everything but not actually taking the time to enjoy it here and now”.

    These days I barely take any, and if don’t remember it then, shucks, can’t have been that memorable can it?

  5. geofftech says:

    #3 – Paul. To summarise “Spend more time actually enjoying the event by participating, instead of photographing all of it”. 😉

    I agree!

  6. Shaz says:

    Nice pictures Geoff – It’s such a nice feeling when you snap an excellent one. I did my first wedding last year and I really didn’t think that people were hard to capture – but hell yes – my bride wouldn’t keep her eyes open, 400 photos taken and I swear she had her eyes closed in 350 of them….and she had this damn fringe that kept covering her face…grrr but sigh, she loved them anyway 🙂

  7. Fimb says:

    Actually, this is something I have been pondering writing up for my own blog.. but. As some might know, I have a few phobia issues.. Not agorophobia as such, as I’m fine as long as there are no people around. When there are people around I tend to freak slightly. But, by having a camera with me, I feel this layer of comfort at being able to really stop and look. I’m seeing things so much better now I look at them with the thought of photography. Before, my brain would turn into a whirl of panicky thoughts, but the camera, I suppose, gives me a kind of mask.

    Anyway, I love my camera and what it is doing for me!!

  8. geofftech says:

    #6 – Sharon, did you get paid to do it, or just as a favour for a friend? What camera you got nowadays?

    #7 – Fimb, ditto! What camera have you got?


    Before someone (Neil) asks, the first photo was at:

    175mm focal length, f4.5 at 1/1250 of a second, ISO 200.

    And the second:

    110mm focal length, f5 at 1/400 of a second, ISO 200.

    See? It even sounds like I know what I’m talking about as well.

  9. Shaz says:

    Yip – got paid but not full professional prices – Using a Canon EOS300D at the moment.
    It rocks – easy to use as it was the same as my SLR, and the lens are interchangeable.

  10. Why did you take that photo of the bus? Because the people in it matter to you.

    Maybe you and/or Leigh should be more understanding to the people to whom this occasion represents more than opportunity to earn some money; Did you consider explaining your opinion to her and other guests, and giving them the time and chance to take the photos of their friends with their cameras? Or are you worried about the impact on your sales?

    If you can’t cope with the inevitable components of a wedding (ie: the guests), perhaps this isn’t the best kind of photography for you. Perhaps studio work would be more suitable. Whatever you do, don’t go for live music photography. If it’s not other people barging you out of the way, it’s bottles of piss landing all around.

    Maybe you’re just jealous because deep down, you know the Canon DSLR is a better piece of kit 🙂

  11. geofftech says:

    That’s too easy to counter-argue Ian, I expect better from you!

    The people getting married – it’s their big wedding day (hopefully the only time they’ll do it in their lives), so it’s their ONE time that they can get great photos of themselves in that situation.

    Official photographer goes to take a photo, and ten people all swoop and swamp in with their little digital cameras, and ruin it for the official photographer. Best thing? To let the official photographer take a fantastic photo for the couple to enjoy .. the people that (as you say) matter!

    Maybe you’re just jealous because you didn’t get paid for that wedding I know you did a few weeks ago… 🙂

  12. Paul Webb says:

    #10 – the bottle of piss thing: does this only happen at gigs, or do people throw then at you when you are walking down the street? It may be a personal thing?

  13. geofftech says:

    #12 – Took the words out of my mouth Paul… are you sure you wern’t the only one being barged Ian?

  14. I note you’ve ignored my questions.

    Did you consider explaining to the woman who annoyed you so much by taking her pictures your position? Did you give her a chance to take photos of her friends? Or did you just sit and stew because someone else was taking their own photos with better ( 🙂 ) equipment? Given that a flash only lasts a fraction of a second, unless they were actually standing in front of your lens, I don’t see what the problem is? And even if they were, surely a simple “Excuse me” would have solved the problem.

    Besides, barging in on “someone else’s” photos hasn’t turned out too bad for you, has it?

    And why so snobby about litle digital cameras? That lens has corrupted you. It’s not the camera, it’s the photographer that matters.

    (Paid? It was all I could manage to fight off further commissions!)

  15. Fimb says:

    I nearly went for the Nikon D50 actually Geoff.. but, I decided against DSLR at this point (simply because I am brand new to photography and am having to learn it all!), and boght a Fuji FinePix S9500. Its a great learner camera, and I have been so impressed with it so far. In fact, both my brothers who were in the market for a DSLR have since bought the same camera as me (but that is a whole other rant!!)

  16. OK. I think the bride (or whoever was in charge) was at fault. They should have been the ones to gently remind the amateurs that the pros take priority!! I think wedding guests do these things without knowing that they are interfering with the paid photographer. Next time it happens, I’d mention it to the bride (or whomever hired you). All those flashes going off will wreck your photos! The pros have priority.

    And Ian, what’s the problem with you?, you are so bloody argumentative this week!! If you were a woman, I’d think you have PMS. 😉

    I like your photos Geoff…outstanding depth of field makes for a great portrait.

    I am a point and shoot photographer these days, and for that, there’s nothing like a coolpix. Great camera to take internationally, it charged up anywhere.

  17. pixeldiva says:

    Wow. Beautiful depth of field in those photos, and great captures. The very best kind of candid shot, right there.

  18. Tardis Tina says:

    Well, Geoff gave me his ‘old’ first Coolpix, and I still think it takes fantastic photos without a lot of effort.
    I think Geoff you are getting a bit of a camera snob. I was taking pics with a Box Brownie long before you were born,
    and then went home and developed and printed them myself, so there!

  19. geofftech says:

    #16 – Kris, maybe he’s not getting any at the moment… 🙂

    #17 – *thank you* Pix!

    #14 – Ian , I have without doubt become a camera snob, no denying that one! because like most things in life, the more you £pay$ for something (better camera, big lens), the better the result, or output or product, which is certainly the case here. not that there is anything wrong with Coolpix style cameras, but their bigger brothers are just obviously better.

    but also – i can see both sides of the fence now. 6 months ago, I would have taken your stance .. “what’s wrong with people taking photos at the same time as the photographer?”, but having now been there and seen it myself, I can speak from experience.

    re: the woman involved. she was standing on a bridge over which the bride was walking (it was an outside wedding), and was about 50 yards away getting right in the shot. Leigh had to call out to her several times to move, and she didn’t. and that was just one of many incidents!

    #18 – mum… sssh! you’ll get Ian all excited that you’re taking his ‘side’ …

  20. geofftech says:

    Oh, i just thought of something else. Flashes DON’T always last “just a fraction of a second”. you get some people with those bloody dah-dah-dah-dah-dah red eye reduction modes, they’re REALLY annoying!

  21. Even the red eye flashes individually only last a fraction of a second. So have you thought about whether you gave the couple’s friends a chance to take photos.

    I have a friend with a DCS/Pro 14 – do you think they take better photos than you?

  22. Andrew says:

    Even though the flash duration may typically only be 1/10000th of a second, you’d normally use that
    in conjunction with a 1/60th second exposure (you might even use a slightly longer exposure to balence
    the flash nicely with the ambient light). So you have at least a 60th of a second “window” in which
    to have your professional picture messed up by someone else’s flash…

    I still enjoy taking photos on 35mm film (negatives) and I have to say that the results from
    professional film (barely any more expensive than regular film) and having professional processing
    (costing maybe twice as much as a high-street minilab) are amazing. There is no comparison.
    I fully recommend that anyone still using film gives professional processing a try (eg Peak Imaging,
    based in Sheffield, UK ). You won’t look back.

  23. Bob Hannent says:

    Hi Geoff,

    I am in Greece visiting my girlfriend at the moment and she took me to the baptism of her supervisor’s daughter the day after I arrived. Everyone was dressed up for the event of course, my lord there was some scary hair.

    The thing that struck me as odd (and no one else seemed to mind), was that there were two photographers and one guy with an HDV video camera. In the tiny chapel where the blessings took place were crammed quite a number of people and the camera men were nearly fighting for shots! The photographers were virtually pushing each other out of the way!

    They were crawling over each other and really getting in the way, this is apparently normal! I haven’t seen the results but I can’t imagine they were very good because they seemed to be going for quantity over quality. Such a shame.

  24. geofftech says:

    Andrew/Bob, cheers for your comments… at the wedding just gone to, there was a videographer who was right up the front during the ceremony! If it had been my wedding I would have turned round and told him to keep their distance!

  25. Julia says:

    do feel free to give any of our guests a quick elbow should they be so perky with a Nicon!

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